Microsoft today announced the Surface Pro 7, Surface Laptop 3, Surface Earbuds, and Surface Pro X. However, the company had a major “and one more thing” moment. Looking to the future of its products, Surface head Panos Panay announced the Surface Neo, which we previously knew as the Surface Centaurus
This is Microsoft much-anticipated folding screen hardware device. However, the key term here is announcement. Microsoft has only revealed Neo and says the hardware won't ship until next holiday.
Still, we now know Microsoft is fully on the folding screen technology train. We also know Microsoft is serious about creating its game-changing device that makes the most of mobile and PC form factors. Along for the ride is Windows 10X, which is also known as Windows Core OS (WCOS).
We have been writing about a folding Surface device that it's hard to believe one now exists, even if it won't be in our hands until the end of 2020.
Panay said the idea behind the device was giving users all types of versatility:
“As we think about the future of Microsoft in a world that's more mobile and cloud-based… we wanted to make you a product that felt smaller and fit your lifestyle but also in a big way make you more productive and creative.”
This is a dual-screen device that folds into a small book-like device, and opens into a single tablet sized hardware. However, it is not like Samsung Galaxy Fold. Samsung's device, firstly is a true smartphone whereas Surface Neo is a tablet/PC.
Galaxy Fold is also a single screen experience when opened. Surface Neo is a true dual screen device, as in two separate displays that can work independently or together. This truly looks like a book when opened and closed, moving from the size of a device like an Apple iPad Mini to one the size of a Surface Pro 7 when opened.
Applications can span across the two screens with a layout optimization called “Spanning”. All Windows apps are supported, including Office. Multitasking is also an obvious benefit, with users being able to access one app on one screen and another on the second screen.
Panay says, “there is truly nothing else like this out there, noting”.
Each side of the Surface Neo is 5.6mm thin, which means it is an impressive 11mm thick when closed. It is under 700 grams and Panay points out this is the thinnest LCD screen ever.
Windows Core OS (WCOS), now called Windows 10X, is the platform that underpins the folding Surface Neo. This is a modular variant of the Windows 10 platform. By creating a modular Windows experience, Microsoft can put the full power of Windows 10 on any device. WCOS will provide Microsoft with a platform that will work on mobile devices and PCs alike.
Windows 10X supports Win32 applications through what is basically an emulater that allows older programs to run in containers.
All over, the Surface Neo is a hugely impressive device, and may be the game changer Microsoft has long promised. However, it is worth remembering it will not launch until the end of 2020. With that in mind, Microsoft has not offered any pricing or even deep spec information.